Linux on the small

September 20th, 2008 by k8gu Leave a reply »
Linksys Router

Linksys Router

A few weeks ago, Sarah and I attended an event that the University YMCA sponsors…Dump and Run.  The idea is that students who are moving out in the Spring can drop anything they don’t want at the Y, which is within walking distance of the dorms.  Volunteers sort the items and sell them again in the Fall when the students return.  Many universities have variations on this theme.

I picked-up a nice framing square for 50 cents, a corduroy jacket for five dollars, and a few other odds and ends.  But, the big jackpot was a Linksys WRTSL54GS router.  There was no price on it and no price for routers or networking equipment on the general Dump and Run pricing sheet.  The top and bottom covers had been removed.  So, I had no idea if it had been “repaired.”  I offered the guy at the table five bucks for it.  He seemed happy; I was happy.

I plugged the little box in at home and fired-up my computer.  I was greeted by Whiterussian 0.9 instead of the usual Linksys firmware.  Brilliant!  Although I’m a fairly experienced Linux user, I’d never worked with embedded Linux.  So, I read up on it.  Not knowing if the previous owner was trying to launder a box that had been used for criminal intent, I reflashed it with a more recent edition of OpenWRT.  This gave me a fresh slate to work with to boot.

I shot Scott, KA9FOX, who hosts this site, a note about setting up a subdomain to use with router.  He suggested that the easiest way to do this would be to setup a free domain with dynDNS and then create a DNS CNAME record for that pointed at that domain.  Brilliant again!

One of the nice things about the WRTSL54GS is that has a USB port.  So, you can attach mass storage devices to it.  I’ve attached a 128-Mb jump drive that seems to work just fine.  But, I plan to do something semi-permanent at some point in the future.  There is a set of pads for a second USB port on the board, which are rumored to be hot.  I have contemplated hard-wiring an SD-card reader into that port to make a complete package.   Did I mention that I’m also using this as a wireless access point?  It’s great for the power misers out there.  It doesn’t quite have the umph to run SQL, as far as I know.  So, it wouldn’t be too useful for a self-hosted blog.  But, it seems very capable…  I’m already looking for another one; but, I doubt I’ll get that kind of deal anytime soon.